Knowledge management theories and models

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Hu ambuwa vhuṅanga; vhukololo a vhu ambuwi (This is a Venda proverb literally translated to: “The medicine-man who crosses into foreign territory takes his craft with him, but royal rank cannot be taken abroad.”).


The preceding chapter looked at the research design and methodology employed to conduct this study. The chapter focused specifically on ways that were followed to answer research questions. This chapter presents the findings of the gathered by the investigator. The findings obtained originate from a qualitative research approach with a hermeneutic phenomenological research method employed. The chapter presents findings from the interviews, observations, as well as the document analysis. The presentation and analysis of the findings is important because it allows the investigator to reduce data to an intelligible and interpretable form so that the relations of research problems can be studied and tested, and conclusions drawn (De Vos et al. 2011:249). This chapter will further help the investigator to structure the findings from interviews, observations as well as documents studies. The presentation of the results as guided by the objectives of the study were organised according to the following themes:

    • The status of indigenous healing in Limpopo Province of South Africa.
    • Knowledge acquisition by indigenous healers in Limpopo Province of South Africa.
    • Knowledge transfer among indigenous healers in Limpopo Province of South Africa.
    • Knowledge preservation among indigenous healers in Limpopo Province of South Africa.
    • The acquisition, transfer and preservation of knowledge of traditional healin

Data presentation

Firstly, a semi-structured interview was used to gather data from traditional healers in the Limpopo Province. The investigator prepared an interview schedule containing questions listed according to the objectives of the study. The questions were mainly used as a guideline for the interview because they were never asked in a sequence and in most cases not all questions were asked. The flow of discussions determined which questions were asked and which ones to leave out so that there were no interruptions. The questions asked were aimed at addressing the research questions of the study. All the interviews were done at the participant’s homes at the times and days determined by the participants from the sets of dates
which were given to them. The interviews were conducted between the months of September and November 2016. All interviews were conducted in Xitsonga, Pedi and Venda.
Before the actual interviews, the investigator explained to all participants the purpose of the study. The participants were informed that participation was voluntary and that they had a right to discontinue or stop the engagement at any point they feel uncomfortable during the interview. The participants were further ensured that they will remain anonymous and that confidentiality will be kept at all times. None of the healers was quoted or identified with any of the responses recorded.
In most of the interviews, permission was granted to record the conversations and in cases where permission was not given, responses were recorded manually. The manual recording of the responses interfered with the flow of events and to address the problem, the investigator made use of an assistant who took notes as deliberations unfolded. The audio-tapped recorded responses provided exact responses and opinions of the participants.
Secondly, an unstructured observation results were obtained over a period of five months, which coincided with the conducting of interviews at times. The investigator went to request for permission to do this study when one student was in the final stages of training and about to graduate with two students about to start with the training and decided to focus on the new students. The events observed were categorized according to the issues raised in the research questions of this study. The interview guide that was designed to help collect data from interviews made it possible for the investigator to recognise and record events that were addressing the objectives of the study. It is important to note that the observation data obtained were about the two students observed and is not regarded as being representative of all the healers in the province, however, interviews and the analysis of documents complemented the data.
Thirdly, the investigator looked at the available documented knowledge to help bring out the gaps and to find solutions on how this knowledge can best be preserved for future generations. The documents studied in this regard included government policy documents relating to traditional healers and traditional healing, documents in the procession of healers, newspaper stories and some research reports in the subject area of traditional healing. In this section, we focused on the status of traditional healing in South Africa, and looked at what the policy documents are saying regarding traditional healing education and training. The next section gives a bit of background about those healers who participated in this study

Background of participants

This is a qualitative study, as a result, the investigator will not be discussing issues related to the study’s response rate and representativeness because the results of the study will not be generalised. Neuman (2006:219) argues that for qualitative studies, researchers should focus less on the sample’s representativeness rather on how the sample or small collection of cases, units or activities illuminates social life. Qualitative studies are known to produce deep data not statistical data common to quantitative studies. The investigator visited all five regions of the Limpopo Province (Waterberg, Capricorn, Vhembe, Mopani and Sekhukhune (see Figure 4.1) to collect data. In all regions we started the interviews with the healer that we got through our contact. We then requested that particular healer to refer us to some of the people he/she had worked with. We continued the process until we were not getting any new information. The data collection process stopped when the investigator felt dada saturation has been reached.
In the Mopani region six senior healers were interviewed. From the six, four were female and 2 males. One of the males was an eldered man who graduated over thirty students and had about six students undergoing training at the time. From the four females, one female had two students busy with the training and had graduated many more before.
In the Waterberg region, the investigators managed to interact with seven healers of which two were male and the other five were female In the Sekhukhune region five female healers were interviewed. In the Capricorn region four healers were interviewed of which three were females and one was male. The last leg of interviews was done in the Vhembe region. In the Vhembe region, three males and two females were interviewed bringing the total in that region to five.Two female trainees aged between 35 and 45 were observed in this study (see Figure5 4.2). One of the trainees was employed and was going to work daily and resumed with her training in the evenings and during weekends. The other trainee was unemployed and was focussing fulltime on the training. One trainee came from the Northwest Province into Limpopo for training and the other was a resident of the Waterberg region of Limpopo. The two trainees were referred to as twins because they did their training at the same time. In traditional healing it is said that your ranking is determined by the number of years you have been practicing. If someone younger than you in terms of age trained before you, that person is your senior when it comes to the practice of traditional healing. All the healers who were trained by the same master are ranked according to their years of experience.

The status of indigenous healing in Limpopo province

There is a lot written about the status of traditional healing in South Africa, particularly post-apartheid after the Suppression of Witchcraft act of 1957 was replaced by the new traditional healer’s act, which allowed healers to perform their duties, such as, the healing of patients, training other healers, being custodians of indigenous knowledge, and being the point of reference for traditional matters without any fear. The suppression of Witchcraft Act of 1957 as well as the criticism labelled by missionaries such as Congregational, Methodist, Anglican, Lutheran and Catholic towards African beliefs and religion affected and continues to affect how people treat and view the healers (Denis 2006:312); having said that, there have been significant and positive changes at government level in the democratic South Africa.
The findings from a study by Mokgobi (2014) suggest that the duties of healers go beyond the uses of herbs for illnesses. Mokgobi (2014) argues that, in addition to working with herbs and healing the sick, traditional healers are custodians of the traditional African religion andcustoms, educators about culture, counsellors, social workers and psychologists. Be that as it may, Mathibela, Egan, Du Plessis and Potgieter (2015) argue that the South African government’s health care has negatively influenced the practice of traditional healing as patients consult government health centres before turning to traditional healers. Some of the doctors in those hospitals discourage patients from using traditional healers for health reasons. Similarly, some of the religious leaders (mostly Christians) in the country label traditional healers as evil and consistently discourage their members to consult healers. Children grow up not understanding what traditional healing is all about and continue with the stigma that is attached to traditional healing. Children are made to believe that traditional healing is a dirty job, done by the poor and only in rural areas. On the contrary there are a number of stories which surfaced about celebrities who live in luxury, who are well educated and respected who happened to have answered the call to become healers. These stories were published in the daily newspapers and magazines that cover celebrity stories. The following are some of the celebrity stories made public by the Sowetan (2016):

    • Boitumelo Thulo (see Figure 4.3), professionally known as « Boity », is a South African actress and TV presenter known for her role as Mpho Bogatsu on Mzansi
    • Magic’s Rockville and presenting E TV’s music show, Club 808. According to the Sowetan (2016) the popular TV personality undergone a spiritual journey and has accepted an ancestral calling to become a healer.
    • Bongani Masondo (see Figure 4.4) is a South African actor best known for his starring role as Bafana « Prince » Shabalala in the SABC1 drama series Tshisa, from 2006-2012 and currently (2015 – as ‘Babymaker’ in Skeem Saam on SABC1. He graduated to be a Sangoma in 2011 at Margate in KwaZulu-Natal (Sowetan 2016).
    • Latoya Makhene (see Figure 4.5) is a South African actress, singer and TV personality. She is well known for acting in South Africa’s famous soap operas, Isidingo and Generations. She also answered the call and trained as a traditional healer. According to the Sowetan (2016), she currently juggles her acting schedule with a small consulting business where she heals people.Treasure Tshabalala (see Figure 4.6) is a South African actor and radio DJ best known for his leading role as Timothy Gumede, the father of the title character, in the television sitcom Nomzamo, from 2006-2008. Other television series he has acted in include Phindi, 90 Plein Street and Generations. He has also acted in the mini-series Shaka Zulu (1987) and the Italian made-for-TV movie The Vulture if a Patient Bird (1989). Treasure Tshabalala is also a trained healer.
      Despite all the positive stories on traditional healing, there are still many other negative stories that are linked to traditional healing. There has been an array of media reports of traditional healers claiming to have a cure for AIDS or submitting their patients to dangerous or ineffective treatments (Richter 2003). There are also stories appearing in the news about suspected killings that are linked to healing and traditional healers where it is believed people are killed for their body parts for healing purposes.
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To get an informed view on the matter the investigator went on to solicit views from healers through interviews on the status of indigenous healing in the Limpopo Province of South Africa. In cases where participants gave similar answers, only one answer was captured to avoid recording the same thing multiple times. As a start, participants were asked how they felt about their job as healers in the province. This was aimed at understanding how healers felt about their job and the state at which traditional healing is in the province. The following answers were given (see Table 4.2):
When it comes to issues of regulating and controlling of the traditional healing practice, Tshetlha (2015:279) highlights that the Interim Traditional Health Practitioners Council (THPC) was inaugurated in February 2013, and in May 2014 the sections of the Traditional Health Practitioners Act which give it full powers came into effect. Some of the core functions of the council worth highlighting include ensuring the efficiency, safety and quality of traditional health care services; to provide for the management and control over the registration, training and conduct of practitioners, students and specified categories in the traditional health practitioners profession.

Knowledge acquisition among healers

Ryu et al. (2005) opine that for knowledge acquisition to take place, the two parties who are involved, that is, a knowledge source and a knowledge recipient, must interact with one another. The knowledge of traditional healers is known to have been transferred from generation to generation through oral tradition. This knowledge is mostly residing within the knowledge bearer’s individual memories. As a result, for knowledge acquisition to occur, those in need of this knowledge must learn directly from those with the knowledge.
Participants were asked what they mostly did during training. This was aimed at finding out the key elements involved during training. The following responses were given (see Table 4.10):
Despite all that, the situation on the ground is somehow different. Associations with no statutory status are the ones registering the healers. The following are some of the certificates and documents the investigator managed to come across:
The investigator observed that learning and understanding how to read the bones (see Figure 4.12) is a very important part of every trainee’s journey in becoming a healer. Every trainee had their own bones to use every evening when they practice. They mostly tested them amongst themselves. Sometimes the master would allow them to use their bones to help with patients before she can use her own. The bones can be regarded as the stethoscope of the traditional healing world. They are used to identify problems as well as to suggest which herbs can be administered to tackle the problem.
Herbs are very important and form the core of traditional healing. Over the years different scholars especially in the chemistry department have laboratory tested different herbs and proven to contain different elements that heal different illnesses. A popular example in this regard being the development of the aspirin which from its origin was known to be a herbal folk medicine (Aspirin foundation 2007). Herbs are mostly taken from tree barks, roots, leaves, and even fruits. The collecting of herbs by the trainees was mostly done at the back end of their training. They visited different areas collecting specific herbs which were dried and grinded before being poured in to different containers for storage (see Figure 4.13 & Figure 4.14).The investigator wanted to find out how involved were that participants during their training years in the healing of patients. This was aimed at finding out how much practical work they were doing to see if participants were allowed to practically learn from the masters and if they were allowed to imitate what their masters did. The following responses were recorded (see Table 4.11):

1.1 Introduction and background to the study
1.2 Problem statement
1.3 Purpose of the study
1.4 Research objectives
1.5 Research questions
1.6 Significance of the study
1.7 Originality of the study
1.8 Literature review
1.9 Research design and methodology
1.10 Data analysis and presentation
1.11 Ethical considerations
1.12 Scope and delimitations of the study
1.13 Discussion of key terms and concepts
1.14 Organisation of the thesis
1.15 Referencing style used in the thesis
1.16 Summary
2.1 Introduction
2.2 Purpose of literature review
2.3 Sources of Information
2.4 Literature review road map
2.5 Knowledge management theories and models
2.6 Theoretical framework for this study
2.10 Knowledge management
2.11 The status of indigenous healing in South Africa
2.12 Acquisition, transfer and preservation of indigenous knowledge
2.13 A framework for the acquisition, transfer and preservation of knowledge of traditional healing.
2.14 Related studies2.15 Summary
3.1 Introduction
3.2 Methodological theories
3.3 Research paradigm
3.4 Research approaches
3.5 Qualitative research methods
3.6 Data collection instruments
3.7 Research procedure
3.8 Data quality
3.9 Data analysis and presentation
3.10 Ethical considerations
3.11 Evaluation of research methodology
3.12 Summary
4.1 Introduction
4.2 Data presentation
4.3 Background of participants.
4.4 Summary
5.1 Introduction
5.2 The status of indigenous healing in the Limpopo Province of South Africa
5.3. Knowledge acquisition
5.4 Knowledge transfer
5.5 Knowledge preservation
5.6 The acquisition, transfer and preservation of knowledge of traditional healing
5.7 Summary
6.1 Introduction
6.2 Summary of the findings
6.3 Conclusions.
6.4 Recommendations.
6.5 Proposed framework
6.6 Implication for theory, policy and practice
6.7 Suggestions for further research


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